During the pandemic many firms saw a decline in the sales-ready leads flowing from their website; this article offers 3 ways to recapture some of those lost leads going forward.
Last June, I became curious as to how the pandemic was affecting firms’ digital marketing performance. To answer the question, we rolled up the analytics data from a variety of our active and past clients’ websites—a mix of consulting, training and IT services firms, research organizations, A/E firms, and SaaS providers—to see what was happening. In total, we looked at about 700k+ website interactions spread across 20+ firm websites over a 90-day period before and during economic shut downs. A few of the key highlights:
- Most firms lost website traffic over that period (collectively, -13%)
- Unfortunately, firms saw late-stage conversion rates decline 3x as fast (collectively, -45%)
The short summary—inbound sales inquiries declined much faster than early-stage marketing interactions would’ve led you to expect. This is not a huge surprise, right? In the heart of the pandemic, many firms were seeing fewer “browsers” and even fewer “buyers.”
Some of the questions this raised were:
- How can we re-capture some of those lost conversions?
- How can we enable client conversations to start happening digitally?
- How can we enable more effective client conversations when clients are ready to talk?
Over the last 6 months, we’ve identified 3 ways to help clients in all these areas:
- Introduce “Slide-Up” CTAs
- Leverage Assessment Tools
- Augment with Chat Tools
#1 – Introduce “Slide-Up” CTAs
One of the first ways to convert more site traffic is simply to make the point of conversion more interactive and visible. Historically, when advising clients on how to convert traffic from marketing pages (practice pages, solution pages, and case study pages) we’ve recommended placing a late-stage CTA within the logical flow of the content arc. A solution page follows a logical structure—it describes the problem the solution was designed to solve, provides a short summary of the solution and the benefits of it, introduces a few examples of clients who’ve had success with the solution, and provides a way for clients to start a conversation (the CTA). The CTA is the 4th thing on the page. It’s in-line towards the bottom. It follows the logical progression of the story. But maybe there’s a better way.
Most consulting firms don’t want to institute giant, “schedule a call” pop-ups that take over the entire site. But we can increase conversions by introducing interactivity. One way we’ve been suggesting clients do this is by adding “Slide-Up” CTAs on their marketing pages. These are simple, elegant, CTA offers that slide up from the bottom of the page after the visitor has scrolled part-way through the page. Here’s an example from the organizational development and HR consulting firm, RBL Group. You can see it in action in this short snippet video:
We’ve seen even this little bit of interactivity increase conversion rates (both early stage and late stage) on our client sites and have been working with a number of firms to implement this type of interaction where appropriate.
#2 – Leverage Assessments
The problem with most firm websites is that they’re largely one-way experiences. Most firms publish a wealth of thought leadership to demonstrate their expertise and articulate the problems they know how to solve. They back that up with practices, solutions, and case studies to demonstrate their experience in solving those problems and driving results. This is all well and good, but if you stop and think about it your website is essentially talking “at” the client not “with them.”
Getting hired by a client requires a two-way interaction. The assumption pre-COVID-19 for most firms was that this interaction only occurred offline. It was a telephone conversation or a meeting. But, why not start that sales conversation right on the website itself?
One way to do this is to leverage assessments. An assessment lets a client answer 10-15 questions about their specific situation in order to receive some preliminary recommendations on where they might want to prioritize their efforts. The assessment could compare a client’s current state against their desired future state and provide a short gaps analysis. Or it could compare their current state against a benchmark you’ve established through your thought leadership research or client work.
We’re seeing many firms use assessments to extend their thought leadership research and make it more tailored to a specific client’s unique situation. This thought leadership article from Accenture on building employee trust includes both a built-in assessment and a full downloadable report. You can see me take a simple assessment from 9 Lenses in this short snippet video:
Of course, the other clear benefit of a well-designed assessment is that it can help you kick-start the offline sales process—you can provide potential clients with an opportunity to request a conversation about the results of their assessment to activate the sales process. And you can use the intelligence provided back from the assessment tool to have a more robust and effective first sales conversation.
#3 – Augment with Chat Tools
Another way to begin a two-way interaction with your clients on your site is through a chat tool. Chat tools have been used on SaaS and consumer sites for years, but very few professional services firms have taken the leap though some of the benefits are obvious.
First, the challenge that’s emerged from the content explosion over the last 10 years is that most clients, when arriving at your site, literally have no idea where to start. They may have a fuzzy sense of a problem they’re trying to solve for or a loose idea about your firm, but your site carries 1,000s of thought leadership pieces, 100’s of case studies, and 10’s of solutions pages. They don’t even know where to begin.
Essentially, a first way to employ a chat tool is to structure it like a “digital concierge.” Use it as a means to direct a client to the content they might find useful based on a question they ask. Or guide them to different parts of your site based on the big business problems you firm is organized to solve. You can do this with a mix of AI/person led chat.
From there, you can use the chat functionality to offer a sales conversation when the time is right. Take a look at this short snippet video from an interaction I had with the Drift bot on the Drift site, and you’ll see as I navigate from a simple question into about how to apply chat bots to thought leadership libraries into eventually booking a conversation with a sales lead (all within less then 2-3 minutes):
It’s Time to Embrace Interactivity and Two-Way Functionality
The web is the world’s first entirely multi-directional medium. Yet, for far too long firms have continued to treat it as a one-way publishing platform no different than all the forms of media that came before it. I mean, stop and think about it for a second—If you took your 1990s printed newsletter and mashed it together with your capabilities deck of the time, you’d pretty much have your 2021 website wouldn’t you? It’s time for THAT to change.